At the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show Press & Trade Days, which ran from November 18-20, there were a plethora of exciting new vehicles on display, many of them on the sporty side. Ford impressed with its Shelby GT350 Mustang muscle car, BMW blended speed and versatility with its X5 M and X6 M utility vehicles, and Acura pushed its ILX into sport sedan territory. A set of CUV offerings, however, despite their lack of flash and glamour, arguably made the biggest impression as vehicles most likely to make a significant impact on the industry in the future.

Honda HR-V


After debuting in Japan in late 2013 and making its way to various auto shows around the world, Honda finally revealed the U.S. version of its HR-V compact crossover in Los Angeles. As the Honda CR-V has gradually increased in size over the years, the brand took the opportunity to slot an additional utility vehicle below its CR-V. With an overall length of 169.1 inches, the HR-V is roughly 10 inches shorter in length than its larger sibling and is positioned such that it presents the perfect option for consumers looking for something bigger than the Fit, which shares the same platform, yet is not quite as large as the CR-V.

All HR-V models will be powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder with an output of 138 horsepower and 127 lb-ft of torque and both front- wheel drive and all-wheel drive will be offered when configured with the CVT transmission while a six-speed manual can be had only on the former. Standard equipment will include features such as Hill Start Assist and a multi-angle camera while options such as automatic climate control, Honda LaneWatch and a high-resolution 7-inch display with an electrostatic touch-screen will be available as well. Given its attractive packaging and the brand’s strong reputation within the utility vehicle market, there is little reason to believe the HR-V won’t prove to be another home run for Honda in the United States. From a value retention standpoint as well, if its siblings’ track records are any indication, the HR-V is an attractive vehicle for those looking for a model that ranks among the best in retaining its value.

Fiat 500X


After a 27-year hiatus from selling cars in the U.S., Fiat returned to American soil three years ago to sell the 500 coupe and slightly larger 500L four-door. Both the 500 and 500L have experienced significant consumer interest but only mediocre sales success, however the brand is currently on track to have its best year yet in the U.S. with more than 39,000 vehicles sold through October. If things continue on the current course, Fiat should be able to pass the 43,000 unit threshold set in 2013.

In Los Angeles Fiat showed off a new compact crossover called the 500X, which is anticipated to open up the small car market to mainstream Americans. This is something that the brand’s current models have struggled to do, and in a press conference Chrysler Group chief marketing officer and head of Fiat brand Oliver Francois said that "This is our answer to the American market."

The 500X will be available in five trim levels, and will be powered by one of two four-cylinder engines.  A 1.4-liter turbocharged engine paired with a six-speed manual transmission is standard fare on the entry-level model, but all-wheel drive will not available with the six-speed manual. Other models will come standard with a 2.4-liter Tigershark I-4 engine paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive will be optional with the 2.4-liter and nine-speed configuration.

Mazda CX-3


Mazda showed off its all-new CX-3 just prior to the auto show. The compact crossover is set to go on sales in the U.S. this summer and will slot in below the brand’s popular CX-5 and CX-9 crossovers. Mazda discontinued the CX-7 to remove overlap with the CX-5 and CX-9 in their SUV lineup, and now they’ve introduced a smaller CX-3 CUV to complete with some of the other offerings that have been revealed recently (i.e. Honda HR-V, Fiat 500X).

Based on the Mazda 2 hatchback, the CX-3 features the same Kodo exterior design language as the CX-5. The CX-3 will make use of Mazda's Skyactiv-G 2.0-liter gas engine with power supplied to the front wheels or to all four wheels. Both the FWD and AWD versions will come standard with the same six-speed automatic transmission. A manual transmission will not be available.

We’ll continue to update you on these exciting new CUV offerings as more pricing and production information is released in the coming months.